Author: Anne Elise Morrigan
The road to Blizzcon is about half over in Phase 2. Upcoming we have Part 2, the Playoffs, and the Crucible but in the here and now, the top four teams from each region will Clash for regional pride. At stake is an extra spot for the region at Blizzcon (the Buddy Pass), meaning if a team from your region wins, they get four spots at Blizzcon instead of three. It should be a super exciting time.
But it isn’t.
The Western Clash is going to be at the Blizzard arena, which means, the only crowd noises we will be hearing are rabid HotS fans screaming their heads off. There will be energy and excitement and shouting and yelling.
And it feels like a foregone conclusion..
The problem is that, right now, HGC seems to have broken down into what I’m calling “2 versus the World.” The two are Gen.G and Team Dignitas. Right now, it seems inevitable that the finals of Blizzcon will be a repeat of the finals at the MSB. So, with Dignitas alone at the top of the mountain at the Western Clash, and seemingly no one in their league with a 7-0 match record backed by an impressive 21-2 map record, where is the excitement and the potential for drama?
Well, allow me to bring the drama: Team Dignitas will lose the Western Clash.
I can see the comments now:
“Anne has gone mad!”
“Bitch doesn’t know shit about pro play!”
“Who is this and how did I end up on this site… I was looking for porn!”
True, true, and share please!
Team Dignitas is the overwhelming favorite to win the Western Clash, and for the first time in a very long time, they will actually face a hostile crowd in Anaheim. NA fans have a lot to cheer for. Tempo Storm’s upset of Ballistix twice at MSB and HeroesHearth Esports dominant run in Part 1 of Phase 2 this year make both look stronger than, at the very least, Method and Leftovers at this clash. Octalysis and Freedom are both sleeping giants. One or two things need to click for these teams to be contenders, and that is saying nothing of the resurgence of Team Liquid on the EU side.
So, while Team Dignitas have looked dominant in season and international play, I’m going to stick my neck out and say there are three other teams with legit shots to take the Western Clash and dethrone Team Dignitas.
HeroesHearth Esports: At 7-0, HHE also have an impressive record in an improved NA division and has scattered 3 map losses across 7 matches to attain a 21-3 map record. Their decision to make no changes after Phase 1 means that this is the most cohesive team at the Clash, along with Team Dignitas. Bracket position here is also crucial, as HHE is in the bottom of the bracket, which means they can’t face Team Dignitas until the Winners’ Final. HHE also avoids facing a more consistent Team Method as they draw the considerably weaker Leftovers for the NA 1 vs EU 4 first round matchup. The only question is can HHE beat Dignitas? I don’t know, but they only have to do it once. HHE will most likely have to climb through the losers’ bracket at some point, so all they have to do is find a way to defeat Dignitas in the grand finals. They just need to make it there as well.
Team Liquid: EU’s number 2 is quite a surprise in Phase 2. The fall of Fnatic has left a vacuum, and Liquid’s moves at mid-season have turned them from 5th place to a powerhouse. While their 6-1 record is impressive, only dropping the match to Dignitas, their 18-11 map record leaves a lot to be desired. 3-2s against three teams that didn’t make the clash in Granit Gaming, Fnatic, and Zealots, but against the other two EU teams that did make the clash, Leftovers and Method, Liquid has a 6-1 map record for Phase 2. Liquid seems to rise or fall to the level of their competition, which means that they should be able to hang with anyone. Also, Liquid is the most likely to face Dignitas twice as they have to be the favorites in a second round matchup against HHE. How much can Dignitas afford to reveal to a team that already is nipping at their heels?
Tempo Storm: Some of you are reading this and wondering why I would put Tempo Storm as the third team that could possibly topple Dignitas. Yes, the loss of Psalm hurt this team. Psalm was, without a doubt, one of the most impactful players in NA. That said, Tempo Storm is still a very solid team and they know what it takes to compete. Their slaying of Ballistix, twice, at MSB shows that this is a team to be reckoned with. They will get a likely second round match against Dignitas, and they have the ability to pull the upset. Will they? Probably not, but you can bet that the crowd will be hype for this match. Tempo also has the ability to run the lower bracket should they fall.
For some, there is a question about whether or not they can beat Method, and I don’t think that Method matches up well against Tempo in the first round. While the previous incarnation of Method went 0-2 at the last Western Clash, I don’t think that adrd and Bad Benny coming back to this roster (both had been with the original incarnation since they were Two Bees Determined) changes that. Tempo Storm will dispose of Method in the first round, and then they have to find a way to topple Dignitas in the second.
Now, I don’t mean to say that Method, Leftovers, Team Octalysis, and Team Freedom cannot contend. They can. They could. They just won’t.
Ultimately, it comes down to whether or not Team Dignitas can beat an opponent twice. They struggled at the Phase 1 Western Clash to put away Zealots, needing all seven games to do it, and each of the three teams I have listed here is a stronger team than Zealots was in Phase 1. Team Dignitas will make it to the Grand Finals, but the opponent who shows up there will take them out.
And now, I’m starting to get hyped for this like I should be.
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